Welcome to the match stream for the penultimate match in the 2020 NWSL Fall Series and the Orlando Pride’s final match of the season as they take on the North Carolina Courage. Orlando (0-2-1. 1 point) sits in eighth place. A win could put the Pride potentially as high as fifth. North Carolina (1-1-1, four points) could climb the table to third with a win.
The Courage have completely dominated the series. They hold a record of 7-2-1 against Orlando, and the Pride have been outscored 30-11 — the worst goal differential the Pride have against any opponent. North Carolina has won five of the last six meetings.
However, North Carolina is a weaker team right now than in previous years. While the Pride have 12 players out on loan, Orlando was still competitive in the meeting earlier this year. With a very young and inexperienced lineup, the Pride were able to keep the Courage from scoring and the match finished 0-0.
Last season, Orlando was embarrassed by a 6-1 scoreline in North Carolina on Sept. 14, 2019. Lynn Williams scored in the sixth minute, and the Courage never looked back. Ashlyn Harris had a huge night — she even made a penalty kick save — but the opposition was too good. Pride forward Rachel Hill sent a rocket into the back of the net in the 82nd minute with her team down 4-0. The home side responded by scoring twice more. The Pride also lost 3-0 at home and 5-0 at North Carolina in 2019.
The Courage swept all three from Orlando in 2018, with a pair of 3-0 victories and a wild 4-3 win on May 23, 2018 which Jessica McDonald won in the 90th minute after Alanna Kennedy and Hill scored to erase a two-goal deficit in the second half.
Both of Orlando’s victories in the series came in 2017, when the Pride finished 2-1-0 against North Carolina. The Pride used a 3-1 win to snap a 12-match winless streak on May 14, 2017. Chioma Ubogagu, Camila, and Jasmyne Spencer all found the back of the net in the second half. Like Hill, none of those three players are currently with the team.
Orlando’s only other win was the final match of 2017. It was one of the best games in Orlando Pride history. In a back-and-forth affair, the Pride found themselves up 2-0 with goals from Kristen Edmonds and Marta. Williams haunted the Pride again, as she recorded a second-half brace and the game looked to be heading to a draw. However, Kennedy found the game-winner in stoppage time off a perfect free kick that put Orlando into third place in the final league standings — the club’s best finish to date.
The Pride enter this match winless in the Fall Series. Through three matches, the Pride lost twice to Houston, but their best result was the first match against North Carolina. Orlando struggled against Houston, but its last game was a tale of two halves. The Pride were completely outplayed in the first half and found themselves down 2-0 at the break. Orlando was lucky to only be down by that much, as it could have easily been more. The Pride came out much stronger in the second 45 minutes. Sydney Leroux got her first goal since 2018 but Orlando was unable to find that second goal, and fell 2-1.
Orlando was without Ashlyn Harris in that match for personal reasons after the death of her grandmother. Brittany Wilson played in place of Harris and was under fire much of the game, winning NWSL Save of the Week. Defender Carrie Lawrence also suffered an injury in the first half, and had to be brought to the hospital. Both players will be available this afternoon and have been at practice.
North Carolina will be a much different opponent than Houston was. Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the Houston game that he is expecting the Courage to have a very aggressive high press. They will press high up the field and try to win the ball back in Orlando’s area. To beat this, Skinner said, Orlando will need to be good in possession.
The Courage are coming off of a 4-1 defeat to Houston back on Oct. 4. Kristie Mewis wreaked havoc with three assists and a goal, while Lynn Williams scored the Courage’s only goal.
“I think what we learned from last week was that we didn’t move the ball anywhere near well enough in the first half,” Skinner said. “In the second half we moved and we played and we expressed ourselves. I think if we can do that, we stand a good chance of getting a really positive result from the game. And that’s what I’m going to remind the players to control during this game.”
The Pride do not have anyone on their injury report. North Carolina will be without Ally Watt (right knee), Merritt Mathias (left knee), and McKenzie Meehan (left foot). Rylee Baisden (left knee) and Kaleigh Kurtz (right thigh) are questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Carrie Lawrence, Ali Krieger, Toni Pressley, Courtney Petersen.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Marta, Jordyn Listro.
Forwards: Kristen Edmonds, Sydney Leroux, Abby Elinsky.
Bench: Brittany Wilson, Ally Haran, Konya Plummer, Deneisha Blackwood, Zandy Soree, Savanah Uveges, Kate Howarth. Chelsee Washington,
North Carolina Courage (3-2-4-1)
Goalkeeper: Stephanie Labbé.
Defenders: Addisyn Merrick, Kaleigh Kurtz, Abby Dahlkemper.
Defensive Midfielders: Cari Roccaro, Peyton Perea.
Midfielders: Meredith Speck, Debinha, Lauren Milliet, Ryan Williams.
Forward: Lynn Williams.
Bench: Rylee Baisden, Samantha Murphy, Katelyn Rowland, Hailey Harbison, Danica Evans, Ari Romero, Kristina Maksuti.
Ref: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Matthew Osterhouse.
AR2: Ashlee Varnson.
4th: JJ Bilinski.
How to Watch
Match Time: 4 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: CBS All Access, Twitch.
Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and on The Mane Land’s Twitter (@TheManeLand).
Enjoy the match! Go Pride!